Because I was so deeply enthralled in Marilynne Robinson’s Home, it was a joy to purchase her new book, Lila. Now that I have read it, I find myself in her camp once again. Her style is very intimate and the world she describes feels familiar, even though the town is fictional. Some would call it a ‘quiet’ book, but I hesitate to describe it in such terms. Delicate and nuanced would be more to the point, as she delves into the thoughts of her protagonist, an unfortunate lost soul who finds love in the home of an aging minister.
It intrigued me to read the second book of Robinson’s set in the graceful home of a minister.  With a Pulitzer Prize for Gilead, in 2004, and numerous other accolades and shortlisted novels to her credit, one would assume that she would be free to set her books wherever she would like. She has protagonists discussing Biblical passages and Home, published in 2008, is a tale of the prodigal son returning to his father’s house.
In reading about Marilynne Robinson’s life, I learned that she grew up in Sandpoint Idaho. She currently lives in Iowa and teaches at the famed Iowa Writer’s Workshop. How she ever explains these to realities to public at large, makes me smile as people perpetually mix up Iowa and Idaho. Housekeeping published in 1980 is set in Sandpoint, but Gilead, Home and Lila are placed in the fictional town of Gilead. There is a flavor or a hearkening back to a particular American style that has always been precious. It exists in Canadian literature as well. The outside world can be harsh, the environment, difficult, but there is a place of refuge, behind closed doors, where life unfolds quietly, and with dignity. It makes the reader picture shafts of light coming into the parlor where a few carefully placed chairs seem comforting and familiar.
Last week, I read something on Twitter bemoaning the ‘quiet’ novel, and the dearth of women’s fiction understandably bent in this direction.
“Something has to happen. It has to have a plot,” advises one literary agent.
I have always been fond of writing that gently wraps itself around me as if it is a warm blanket. My cousin once put a picture on my Facebook timeline where the pages of book take on a human form and wrap the reader in a hug. That is how I see Robinson’s Lila.
What if we were completely alone in the world and understood almost nothing? How would we manage? Lila reaches that part of all of us that feels alone, neglected and abandoned. While the great majority of us have never been forced to deal with such a bleak existence, there lurks in us, a deep fear we experienced as children listening to Hansel and Gretel. It is that very private spot in our psyche that this book embraces.

Recently, Marilynne Robinson was the guest of Bill Moyers. Even in this interview, I find that there is something of her elegant writing in every sentence.